Record field of 25 for Betfred Becher Chase

Thursday, December 4, 2014 –The Betfred Becher Chase has attracted its biggest ever field since its inception in 1992, with 25 horses set to face the starter at 1.30pm on Saturday, December 6 (the previous record was 22 in 2013).

The £140,000 Grade Three contest takes places over three and a quarter miles of the Grand National course, with 22 of the famous fences jumped.

There are four 10/1 co-favourites with the sponsor Betfred, who are offering a quarter the odds on the first FIVE places. The quartet of market leaders are last year’s winner Chance Du Roy (Philip Hobbs/Tom O’Brien), last seen out when sixth in the Crabbie’s Grand National, recent Troytown Handicap Chase victor Balbriggan (Gordon Elliott IRE/David Casey), fellow Irish raider Goonyella (Jim Dreaper IRE/Johnny Burke) and Mendip Express (Harry Fry/Mr Will Biddick), a lightly-raced eight-year-old who made a winning reappearance over hurdles at Warwick on November 5.

On the 12/1 mark with Betfred are Saint Are (Tim George/Denis O’Regan), a dual winner at Aintree and Scottish challenger Green Flag (Lucinda Russell/Peter Buchanan), who made an encouraging return to action when fourth to subsequent Hennessy Gold Cup winner Many Clouds in the Listed Colin Parker Memorial Intermediate Chase over two and a half miles at Carlisle on November 2.

Russell said today: “Green Flag is really well. I was delighted with his comeback at Carlisle over a trip that was too short and obviously the winner has gone on.

“The step up in trip will definitely suit him. He has always been a very good jumper and should take to the course as the fences are very horse friendly now.

“I think he is on a reasonable mark and he has every chance.”

Heading the weights on 11st 12lb is Al Co (Peter Bowen/Jamie Moore, 16/1), who captured last season’s Scottish Grand National.

Nigel Twiston-Davies is the most successful trainer ever in the Betfred Becher Chase with five victories and his representative in 2014 is Benbens (Ryan Hatch, 20/1), who shaped well when second in an amateur riders’ handicap chase at Cheltenham last month.

Champion trainer Paul Nicholls also boasts an enviable Betfred Becher Chase record with three victories and has two runners this year with Mon Parrain (Ryan Mahon, 25/1), who was second over the Grand National fences in the 2011 Topham Chase and Just A Par (Nick Scholfield, 14/1), a Grade Two winner at Newbury last season.

David Pipe is also doubly-represented with The Package (Tom Scudamore, 25/1), 12th in last season’s Crabbie’s Grand National, and Our Father (Conor O’Farrell, 14/1).

Jonjo O’Neill won the 2003 Becher Chase with Clan Royal, who went on to be narrowly denied in the Grand National. His one runner this time around is Burton Port (Richie McLernon, 16/1), who was well-supported for the 2014 Crabbie’s Grand National but got no further than the second fence.

The McCain family has enjoyed tremendous success at Aintree over the years and Donald McCain has two runners with Across The Bay (Wilson Renwick, 25/1), who has completed the course every time he has run over the Grand National fences including when eighth in this race last year and Kruzhlinin (Jason Maguire, 33/1), who was 10th in the 2014 Crabbie’s Grand National.

Other interesting contenders include Knock A Hand (Richard Lee/Michael Nolan 16/1), who is owned by Aintree Racecourse director Alan Halsall and the oldest horse in the race, the 13-year-old Oscar Time (Robert Waley-Cohen/Mr Sam Waley-Cohen, 25/1), who boasts a tremendous record at Aintree, having finished runner-up in the 2011 Grand National and fourth in 2013.

Owners Douglas Pryde, Jim Beaumont and David Van Der Hoeven plus trainer Sue Smith, successful in the 2013 Grand National with Auroras Encore, are responsible for Mr Moonshine (Daragh Bourke, 20/1), who was fifth on his seasonal reappearance in the Grade Two Betfred Monet’s Garden Old Roan Chase at Aintree on October 25.

Betfred Becher Chase – Betfred bet: 10/1 Balbriggan, Chance du Roy, Goonyella, Mendip Express; 12/1 Green Flag, Saint Are; 14/1 Just A Par, Our Father; 16/1 Al Co, Burton Port, Highland Lodge, Knock A Hand; 20/1 Benbens, Mr Moonshine; 25/1 Across The Bay, Alfie Spinner, Ballybough Gorta, Mon Parrain, Oscar Time, Renard, Shakalakaboomboom, The Package; 33/1 Kruzhlinin; 40/1 Lion Na Bearnai, Master Neo.
1/4 the odds first FIVE places NON-RUNNER, NO BET

Betfred spokesman Andrew Griffiths: “It’s exciting to see such a big field declared for the Becher and it has all the makings of an absolute belter.

“Aintree is going to be packed to the rafters on Saturday and we’re looking forward to a great day’s racing.”

Declarations for the remaining six races on Betfred Becher Chase Day, Saturday, December 6, are made tomorrow.

Ground

The going at Aintree is currently:

National Course – Soft, Good to Soft in places

Mildmay Course – Good, Good to Soft in places

Hurdle Course – Good to Soft, Good in places

Andrew Tulloch, Regional Head of Racing Jockey Club Racecourses North West and Aintree’s Clerk of the Course, said: “We are absolutely delighted to have received a record line-up of 25 runners for the Betfred Becher Chase, it is very positive.

“It looks to be a nice field and the race is set to be run on lovely jumping ground. Conditions are likely to be murky and overcast over the next three days, with the odd shower about. There is a chance that the going on all three tracks could ease further.”

#KatieWalshLive

Crabbie’s Grand National Ladies Day ambassador Katie Walsh will be working with the Aintree team on the day and take over the @AintreeRaces twitter feed for half an hour from 10.00am – 10.30am on Saturday. All racegoers and racing fans can ask Katie questions live by using #KatieWalshLive.

About the Betfred Becher Chase Day

A capacity crowd of 42,000 is expected for Betfred Becher Chase Day, with Aintree providing free access to the people of Merseyside who registered in advance. This shows the racecourse’s commitment and gratitude to the local community. The day will be packed with entertainment and first-class racing, with the initiative being supported by Racing UK and Merseyrail.

With the Crabbie’s Grand National only four months away, Aintree TV on December 6 will provide insight into the big race and there will be a “Punter’s Panel” with special guests looking ahead to not only the day’s racing, but providing pointers to the Crabbie’s Grand National Festival 2015, April 9-11.

Racegoers will also be able to buy 2015 Crabbie’s Grand National tickets cheaper than normal, with Aintree waiving the booking and postage fee of £7.50 on Betfred Becher Chase Day.

Betfred Becher Chase legend, Hello Bud, and Grand National winner, Neptune Collonges, will both be showcased on the day. Hello Bud won the Betfred Becher Chase in 2010 and 2012 and was ridden both times by Crabbie’s Grand National ambassador Sam Twiston-Davies, while Neptune Collonges was victorious in the 2012 Grand National. Both will both appear in the parade ring prior to the 2014 Betfred Becher Chase.

Aintree is having a side saddle display in the parade ring before racing starts. Side saddle is a form of equestrianism that uses a type of saddle which allows a rider to sit aside a horse. Sitting aside dates back to the 19th Century and is a retained specialty equestrian niche, even in the modern world. Amy Bryan-Dowell and Chloe Gunn, who regularly compete at side saddle, will lead the display.

The current Crabbie’s Grand National trophy will be on display in a trophy marquee opposite the Queen Mother Stand. Racegoers will be encouraged to have a picture taken with the trophy for £1, which will go to the featured charity of the day, The Walton Centre.

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